Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Time Jumping Ruby

Tonight was kind of a combination flat and jumping lesson. I was a little nervous because I hadn't jumped Ruby yet and it was the last "test" left. Not that any of this has been a true test, but every first time for something has been an opportunity to see potential for our future partnership in each area. Everything so far has worked out pretty well, not that everything is perfect, but I haven't expected perfection, just a good mind, good personality and the potential for our future partnership. The jumping was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to complete my first impressions of Ruby,

We started on the flat and I had a lot of trouble with Ruby tossing her head. I had noticed this on my trail ride the other day and it wasn't a problem I remember having with her the first time I rode her last week. It's definitely a problem with me, I need to somehow find a happy medium between too much / too stiff contact and too loose / too little contact. I'm not quite there yet with her, but at least I'm aware of it and can work on it. Tonight it was also very windy and Ruby was a bit of a looky-loo for a good part of the hour. Had her head up, ears pricked and wanted to look around a lot, with also affected her general head & frame carriage. Towards the end of the flat part of the lesson, it had already gotten much better, although I think my contact was probably a bit too loose still, but it was better than the head tossing. I found that I was able to transition to canter much better tonight than I did last week with my first ride or two with her. The transition is still a little rough, but it was much better -- and I really had only worked on this a little bit over the past week, so that makes me feel like this will improve quickly with consistent work. Our pace at every gait was also much more consistent & steady, although there were a couple of breaks at the canter, towards the end of each canter session I seemed to be able to ride her through this issue too. On the right lead she seems more unbalanced and tends to lean in heavily on the turn. I tried to counter-balance that by leaning myself towards the outside, but I had to concentrate on doing that. This is something that I also think will improve with training and with regular work.

Finally it was time to jump. I was really very nervous. Not nervous in an, "OMG, I'm afraid I'm going to die!" kind of way. But more in a, I'm riding a new horse, I don't know what to expect, I want to do her justice, I don't want to screw up, I don't want find that there is some weird, unexpected jumping style or something that I can't deal with, with my own short-comings. I want to continue to love Ruby and feel enthusiasm for our future partnership, etc. etc. etc. There were a lot of thoughts and emotions running through my system so, bottom-line, I was a bit of a bundle of nerves. The first couple of jumps with her were slightly frisky, but mostly because of my own nervous interference. But even with her burst of enthusiasm, she didn't make a huge rush for the jumps, or take some huge spot (taking off far too early) in front of them -- something that some horses will do if you ramp them up too much. Once I had jumped a couple of times, I felt myself physically, mentally and emotionally relax and the last few jumps we did were much better. Overall, my impression is that she is very steady jumping. Dependable, enthusiastic, steady pace and honest. Of course we only did a few very small jumps, but it was enough to allow me to draw a huge sigh of relief and feel that this is GOOD. She's great, we're going to be FINE.

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